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At commercial scale, Hazer process could produce 2,500 mt/yr of turquoise hydrogen.

By Dale Lunan

BC gas utility FortisBC, Alberta energy producer Suncor Energy and Australian technology developer Hazer Group said July 4 they would collaborate to purse the development of hydrogen from natural gas using methane pyrolysis technology.

The C$11mn (US$8.4mn) pilot project, at Suncor’s Burrard Terminal in Port Moody, would be the first North American deployment of Hazer’s methane pyrolysis technology, which produces clean turquoise hydrogen and converts CO2 into synthetic graphite, which can be sold to manufacturing and industrial customers.

If the pilot is ultimately expanded to commercial scale, it would produce up to 2,500 metric tons/year of turquoise hydrogen, roughly equivalent to 330,000 GJ of natural gas.

“While we are in the early stages of an exciting energy transformation with this hydrogen project, innovative partnerships like this will help accelerate that change,” FortisBC CEO Roger Dall’Antonia said. “Renewable and low carbon gases, like hydrogen, are instrumental in reducing greenhouse gas emissions effectively and affordably while ensuring we have a resilient and diversified energy system for British Columbians.”

The project is being funded directly from the partner companies and by the BC government’s CleanBC Industry Fund, which supports projects that can advance innovative solutions for industry greenhouse gas emissions, like renewable and low carbon gases.

BC is working on several fronts to expand the province’s hydrogen infrastructure, releasing a hydrogen strategy last year and establishing earlier this year the BC Hydrogen Office to assist in the rapid deployment of hydrogen technologies.

“Hydrogen is critical to our transition to a cleaner, low-carbon energy system,” said Bruce Ralston, BC’s minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation. “We are supporting innovation like the Hazer process with the BC Hydrogen Strategy and CleanBC.”

The addition of hydrogen to FortisBC’s renewable and low carbon gas supply is critical to the utility’s ongoing efforts to decarbonise its gas system. Research is continuing into how best to blend hydrogen into the existing FortisBC gas distribution system, and a recent report suggests that hydrogen production in BC could exceed 200 PJ by 2050 – enough to replace virtually all the natural gas consumed in the province.

“Hydrogen has the potential be a significant part of the future energy mix and is a key part of Suncor’s strategy to be a net zero GHG emissions company by 2050,” said Kris Smith, executive vice president downstream at Suncor. “We look forward to continuing to work together on this project that, if sanctioned, will bring low carbon intensity hydrogen supply to the Greater Vancouver Area.”

The first phase of the project, including front-end engineering, design studies and permitting applications, is already underway. The partners hope to build a prototype version of Hazer’s hydrogen reactor at the Burrard location and have it available for testing by the end of next year.